Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cannes winners to be announced

As I write this the awards at Cannes probably are being announced. But what the heck. There's plenty to catch up on.

It looks like Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 might be the Palm d'Or winner, if the Screen International Jury Final Results are anything to go by.

And there's plenty to read over on the Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Discussion forum.

Cannes correspondent Sabu says it doesn't look good for the Thai entry, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady. At 1.4, the film had the lowest rating on the Screen International poll, though he could still come away with a jury prize, Sabu says.

2046 is getting the biggest nod, according to Channel News. "We've worked hard and spent time and effort, and we've deserved everything if it comes to us," director Wong was quoted as saying.

Many reviewers were in raptures over the soft lensing, softer music and complex meanderings, which tells of love stories -- real and fictional -- while zapping between the 1960s and the future.

There were dissenting critics, though. "The employment of voice-overs and pretentious quotes ... only points up how badly the movie gets engulfed in a storytelling fog," Hollywood Reporter opined.

Years in the making and hugely anticipated ... 2046 is a keen disappointment. Because the film arrived 24 hours late for its Cannes debut and one of its star actresses, Maggie Cheung, has been reduced to a 'special appearance by' role, one can only guess that in the chaos of revisions, re-edits and rethinking, the director lost his narrative thread.

Variety was more tolerant, comparing 2046 favorably to Wong's previous film, In the Mood for Love.

If Mood was an over-elaborate hors d'oeuvre, with repeated variations around one couple's affair in '60s Hong Kong, 2046 is more like the main course, a visually seductive reverie on memory and regret refracted through a serial womanizer's experiences with four different women during the same period.

And though Maggie Cheung's role has been cut down for this version (she could still be re-edited back in for the final release), the movie has Zhang Ziyi, Faye Wong and Gong Li ("almost unrecognizable in scarlet lipstick and beehive period hairdo") as well as Mr Cool himself, Tony Leung, that have me wanting to see this.

The Guardian sets the scene further, sending my saliva glands into overtime: "The director and his cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, contrive their familiar close-ups and shabby interiors, often showing an eye for a beautiful female sashaying up stairs. In watching the film we are marooned in a virtual 'present' time of exquisite unhappiness. It is an absorbingly mysterious, richly sensuous film.

Getting back to the Channel News roundup, Cannes jury president Quentin Tarantino, although a fan of Asian cinema, might opt for something harsher and in his own style. That would be Old Boy, a Korean film featuring abduction, torture, much brawling, some bloody amateur dentistry and a self-inflicted tongue excision. Yes!

Outside the competition, Quentin has not been shy about applauding films he liked, according to the Chicago Tribune. When Zhang Yimou's non-competing House of the Flying Daggers finished showing, Quentin led the audience in one of the most sustained, enthusiastic standing ovations of the festival.

"Abandoning the public discretion that is supposed to rule a president's demeanor, famed movie buff Tarantino rose with the rest of the crowd to cheer," Trib movie critic Michael Wilmington wrote. "Then he walked over to embrace Zhang and cast members Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro."

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